Shelters depend more and more on foster homes for the pet adoption process. Space and money is short. Foster homes provide a place for foster animals to grow and for foster families to get to know the pet. Foster homes are expected to take pets in for a predetermined time or until the pet is adopted. Therefore, there are certain expectations when fostering. We’ll take a closer look at those expectations below. Dogs and cats alike rely heavily on foster homes. Today, we’re going to talk about fostering cats specifically. Cats have their own special considerations that need addressing.

Why Cats Need Fostering

There are a few reasons cats and kittens need a foster home. First, a pet rescue or shelter may not have space or an actual building where pets are stored. In that case, they rely on foster homes for boarding cats. Second, young litters or kittens that are not ready for adoption need a safe place to stay. Because kittens are susceptible to illness, a shelter may not be the best place to rear very young cats. Third, sick or stressed cats need time to recuperate. A shelter isn’t always the ideal place to do this. Lastly, cats who have never lived in a home before need to time to acclimate themselves. A residential foster situation is a great way for them to learn to live indoors.

Why Fostering Cats is Important

If you love cats, there are plenty of reasons why fostering is important.
  1. Fostering opens up spaces at shelters for other cats to be rescued.
  2. Fostering prepares a rescued pet for their future forever home.
  3. Socializing the cat gets them used to being in a home environment. They can meet a variety of people and pets.
  4. Fostering helps shelters do a better job of pairing a kitty with their forever home.
  5. It’s a rewarding experience.
Now let’s discuss how one goes about becoming a foster home for cats.

How to Become a Pet Foster Home

Becoming a pet foster parent is extremely rewarding but emotionally… difficult. After caring for your foster cat for what can be weeks or months, you eventually have to give them away to a new home. Having them and getting to know a new pet is an adventure. The first thing you should do if you are interested in fostering cats is do an online search for your local shelters. If you prefer a specific breed, check out breed-specific rescue. However, there are far more breed-specific dog shelters than cat shelters. Once you’ve identified the shelter or shelters you want to work with, you need to reach out. Every pet rescue has different rules and procedures. Be sure to review the paperwork well. Why? Because some fostering opportunities cost more for the foster parent. Who pays for veterinarian bills? Who pays for food? Do you need to provide all of the supplies? Are you expected to take the cat out to adoption events? The shelter will likely require that you get references from your vet and possible other personal contacts. Be prepared for an interview and other types of screening as well.

What You Can Expect When Fostering Cats

Fostering cats isn’t as easy as feeding and playing. As a pet foster parent, it’s your job to rehabilitate your cat for their future home. Here are some things you can expect when fostering cats:

Behavior Problems

Many animals entering foster care come with their fair share of behavioral problems. Leaving their last home, being surrendered, lost or abused are all traumatic for cats. Your cat may have anxiety, unusual behavior, aggressive behavior or other issues that make them difficult to place in their forever home. As a cat foster parent, your job is to mitigate and improve these behaviors to the best of your ability. By doing so, you make the cat more attractive to prospective forever homes.

Health Problems

Some cats may have health issues. Commonly experienced health issues include incontinence, digestive disorders, special food needs, and other special needs. To cope with this, you may need to administer medication regularly. It may also require frequent doctor visits. In any case, you need to be prepared to devote significant time.


If you work fulltime, have a robust social life, and a busy schedule, fostering may not be right for you. Being a foster parent requires research, work, and consistent care. When you have a particularly special cat with issues, it requires more work than you probably planned for. Many times, you don’t know the true issues your cat has until they are home with you. So, if you want to foster a cat, make sure you have lots of time.


Introducing a new cat to your household may require extra space. Generally, you’ll want to confine your cat to one room and slowly introduce them to the rest of your house. If you don’t have room for that, then you’ll want to make a plan. If you have other pets, you especially need to try to keep them separated and introduce them to each other slowly. Foster pets also need separation from other household pets if they are experiencing health issues.

Is Fostering a Cat Right for You?

Pet fostering isn’t for everyone. Think closely over the following questions to consider if cat fostering is right for you.
  1. Are you okay with your home being damaged due to foster pets with behavior issues? Difficult cats can destroy furniture, walls, drapes and more.
  2. Can you afford and have time to visit the vet regularly? Many foster cats have medical issues that require care and follow up.
  3. Can you emotionally cope with cats coming in and out of your home? Like it or not, giving your foster cat to their forever home is bittersweet.
  4. Are you comfortable telling your friends that these pets can’t just be adopted on your discretion? People who want to be a foster pet’s forever home always need to go through the adoption process as per the shelter’s rules.
Fostering a cat is one of the most rewarding experiences a pet lover can enjoy. It’s an important service to your community and for needy animals. Hopefully, you can add yourself to the list of trustworthy, much-needed pet foster parents.